Save Cash, Stick To Cheap Olive Oil When Cooking

High quality extra-virgin olive oils are perfect for salads or drizzling over cooked food, but they're also expensive. When you're cooking with oil, food author Molly Stevens suggests saving your fancy olive oil — the cheap stuff will do just as well.

Photo by avlxyz.

In her excellent book All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking, Stevens explains:

[T] he best-quality, highest-priced, estate-bottled extra-virgin olive oils, especially any nonfiltered oils, should indeed not be used for cooking. First, the flavor and character will fade as you heat the oil, and if you've paid a hefty sum, it's a waste to pour it into a sauté pan. Second, any particles left in an unfiltered oil (as many of the best are) will burn and deteriorate when heated, and thus add bitterness to your recipes. Save these for drizzling over a plate of sliced summer tomatoes... or a hunk of rustic bread.

In short: Go with the inexpensive extra virgin olive oil for cooking. Lifehacker HQ Los Angeles is using Stevens's book to braise a tasty holiday meal, but the book is full of other useful tips along these lines in the An Opinionated Pantry chapter — definitely worth checking out if you're into food.

All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking [Amazon]


    But stay away from Pomace olive oil. That's the stuff extracted chemically from the olive pulp after they've pressed it twice (to get the extra virgin, then the 'normal' oils). It's the cheapest, but also the nastiest. OK for major deep frying, but for that I prefer a lighter oil like peanut or canola.

    A chef told me recently that you shouldn't really cook with olive oil at all, it smokes too easily and the taste cooks out. Oils like canola or grape seed are better for high temperatures.
    Expensive Extra virgin is best used as a dressing as the post says, or for things like sweating onions on a fairly low heat.

    Also you should stay away from anything labelled "vegetable oil" which are usually blends made up mostly of palm oil.

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